Josh Hamilton's All-Star case is in the eye of the beholder

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The K.C. Star’s Sam Mellinger takes issue with folks (like me) who are scratching their heads at the Josh Hamilton selection:

Except here’s the thing: he does deserve it. He deserves it because
the fans say he does. They’re the boss, and sometimes it feels like too
many lose track of that . . . The undisputed highlight of last year’s
event was Hamilton’s jaw-dropping spectacle at the home run derby . . .
That’s what this whole thing is about, and Hamilton delivered, gave us
a moment that we remember a year later, and won’t forget 10 years from
now.

In that sense, Hamilton might be the most deserving All-Star of the bunch.

One of the reasons I try not to get too wrapped up in All-Star
arguments (apart from the fact that the All-Star game has become
something of a joke in concept and execution) is that when people argue
about the players selected, they are usually engaging in apples and
oranges comparisons. Person A thinks that Player 1 shouldn’t have been
picked because he’s not the best player at his position. Person B
thinks that Player 1 should have been picked because he’s the most
famous or popular or something. Or because he’s neither, but boy howdy
did he have a good year last year. Or because he’s about to retire and
kind of deserves a curtain call. There are any number of
justifications, really, and I’m sure you’ve heard them all before.

But those aren’t arguments, really. They’re examples of a
communication breakdown. Why? Because all of those things can be true
at the same time. The real discussion to have is not really over Player
1’s suitability or lack thereof, but what you think the All-Star Game
should be about in the first place, and that argument is often an
afterthought among those who get bent out of shape by the the All-Star
rosters.

If the All-Star Game is a true exhibition for the benefit of the
fans, great, put in Hamilton. Heck, put in Ken Griffey, Jr. for that
matter. People love those guys and on that basis they are certainly
deserving. If it’s about sheer entertainment, how do you not
have Manny Ramirez in there? Because no matter what you think of him as
a person, man, he’s entertaining. If, instead, it’s about first-half
performances none of those guys make it and Matt Kemp isn’t on
the outside looking in and hoping he makes out in the sympathy vote.
If, however, we truly believe the stuff about home field advantage and
“this time it counts!” don’t we have to scrap the
every-team-gets-a-representative rule? Maybe that would stink for Andrew Bailey, but I’m sure whoever represents the AL in the World Series this year would prefer it that way.

The point here isn’t that Josh Hamilton is or is not deserving, the
point is that the All-Star Game represents different things to
different people. Whether Hamilton deserves to be there depends on what
you think the game is all about in the first place. Here Mellinger
asserts that it’s about entertainment, and that’s fine, as long as he’s
consistent with that as it relates to the other selections. But not
everyone feels that way, and no amount of argument is going to convince
someone who thinks that the All-Star Game is a reward for a good
April-July that Hamilton should be there.

It’s probably a good idea to keep that distinction in mind as the arguments rage on through July 14th.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.